Everyone entering the freelancing scene online, realizes sooner or later that there are a few major platforms that we all need to have presence on. These are sites connecting contract workers like us with potential employers. I’ll now guide you through the most important steps of building your expertise with one of the most popular ones – UpWork – and how to make making money on UpWork possible.
Upwork.com is one of the top global marketplaces for independent freelancers and businesses. It lets them connect and do work remotely.
The platform was formerly known as Elance and also oDesk, so you might have heard of these too.
The latest rebranding happened in 2015, and since then they have been consistent with their online image and business goals.
Every independent professional looking to get started with making money online, find their first client, or build some initial expertise to later use for their portfolio, should not only have an Upwork profile, but invest enough time in understanding how the platform works exactly.
Many of the tips I’ll share below can easily be used for all other sites like Upwork. These are freelancer.com, guru.com, PeoplePerHour, and more.
Let’s get to action and see how to become the ideal candidate and get hired often.
1. Make your Upwork profile stand out.
Alright, there are currently around 12 million registered freelancers on the platform.
And while many of them aren’t active, don’t have any experience in their niche, offer low quality work, whose English is bad, etc, it’s still a lot of people to compete with.
I know what it’s like pretty well.
Freelance work on sites like Upwork has been my first ever proper income stream from my digital endeavors. I still rely on it, but had the chance to notice how things have changed over the years.
While underpricing is something so many freelancers struggle with, it’s almost every industry’s standard to take advantage of low-paid contract workers.
Meaning, you might have the skills and passion and experience to show, but employers and companies might still go for the cheaper option as they’ve got a set budget to work with.
Not to worry, though. That’s why I’m creating this guide and will be writing more on getting started with and making money on Upwork. I believe it’s still a super lucrative opportunity for you to grow your income and start something on the side.
It all begins with your profile.
The basic rules are similar to anything else for freelancing success.
Have a nice picture, add all your details (never lie), set some time aside to think of the best description that will resonate with the right employers for you.
Here’s mine, for instance:
Add your rate. What I’ve included has been like that for years now, but of course what I charge is much different and depends on the particular job I’m applying for, what time it will take, the client’s budget, my current availability, etc.
2. Experiment with the job proposals.
You’ve got 60 available connects monthly. On Upwork, that means the credits you use to apply for jobs.
In my case, each gig I send a proposal to usually takes 2 connects, so I have the chance to apply to 30 Upwork jobs for free every month.
I think that’s more than enough if you do it the smart way.
It’s okay if you’re just testing things the first month or two, and use different language and tone in each proposal, apply even for jobs that aren’t a good fit for you, keep it short, or go into details about your relevant experience, etc.
The point is to set the goal of using all your available connects for the next 30 days.
If you’re serious about making money as a freelancer, and want to let this be your escape from the 9 to 5, or you want to scale things, or maybe just add a nice side income to your monthly budget, you’ll make a plan now.
How can you divide the Upwork proposals you can send for the next 4 weeks, so that you stick to this and actually get at least one ‘yes’ and make your first dollars online?
This will be quite beneficial to your self-esteem as a contract worker, and the next applications you’ll send will radiate more confidence in your work and abilities.
3. Carefully examine each Upwork job before applying for it.
What I’ve found to work best, is to make sure you only apply for jobs you feel sure about, which seem like a good fit for you, and for which you’ve got relevant samples to show.
In my case, with freelance writing, that’s either an individual just starting a blog on my favorite topics and looking for a writer to help him spread his message.
Or it could be someone wanting a book on the niches I’ve covered for so many years here on my blog.
In such cases, we’ve got a lot in common and I can write a personalized introduction and even share how I can make the project more successful for him.
Speaking of personalization, it’s alright to have a general template for your proposal, but never send these in bulk. It’s awful to receive something from a person and to realize he’s actually talking about another market, or has missed out on a specific piece of information you asked for, or else.
Know that every employee will receive tens of bids in the first 30 minutes or so of posting the job.
4. Comply with Upwork’s terms and conditions.
Just like it is with any other serious platform in any market, so does making money on Upwork require you to follow their rules.
Carefully go through their user agreement as you might find something interesting that you were about to violate, but which you’ll now keep in mind.
The general stuff, though, is to not take the conversation with an employer (or get paid) outside of their site, never make a second profile, not send the same proposals over and over again, etc.
Know that the admins will find about almost anything you do that’s not meeting their requirements.
All these rules are created for the safety and satisfaction of both parties involved – freelancers and businesses.
So keep it respectful.
5. Make your first clients very, very happy.
Beginnings are hard.
You don’t really have any proof that you can do a good job for someone, so the very first people who hire you on Upwork are basically taking a risk.
You need to make sure you give them a great overall experience, provide even more value with the work you do for them.
That’s for a few reasons, and each is crucial.
For a start, you want to have some history in your profile to show that you are reliable.
Then, you want to gain positive feedback. Upwork reviews go a long way when someone is deciding whether or not to work with you.
What’s more, Upwork gives special attention to the most dedicated freelancers and helps their profiles get noticed first when employers are searching for workers in that category.
6. The money is in the loyal clients.
You’ll start with one-time gigs, but over time you’ll realize that real money from the site can be made via long-term relationships.
That’s mainly because it means recurring income for you, and that brings comfort and sleeping better at night.
But also because of Upwork’s pricing structure that recently changed.
They now favor your work with one client over a longer period of time, and charge smaller fees if you’ve got such employers.
7. Build your portfolio to level up your Upwork game.
I’m all about improving one’s online presence, building a brand around your name in your niche, in order to be known as an expert.
That leads to all kinds of benefits, and is part of your overall online business strategy. Of course, it increases the amount of money you earn too.
In the freelance world, and for the purpose of making money on Upwork and any other similar site, you should also create your own platform and present your work there.
What I’m talking about is setting up your own site and blog, publishing an About, Contact and Portfolio pages, and offering examples of your work.
If you don’t have anything to show, do some work for free if you have to, then ask these people for testimonials.
That’s a game changer.
In my case, samples of articles I’ve already published on my blog are the best I can offer to a potential employer on Upwork.
In my job proposal, I also mention that if they like any of these pieces, they can expect the same quality for the work I’ll do for them.
Simple, true and with attitude!
If starting a blog sounds scary to you, I’ve created a guide with all you need to know on the topic.
If you’re already sold on the idea and have been planning to own a site some time soon, here’s the short version.
You need a web hosting provider, a domain name, and a content management system. These 3 are the foundation of your site.
The most affordable solution for a host, and the company that powers millions of other sites online, is Bluehost.
It’s what I’m using here on Let’s Reach Success.
They offer a free domain name for the first year, and there’s also a one-click install for WordPress (that’s the most popular content management system on the Web, letting you add all possible features to your site with a few clicks).
You can directly head to Bluehost and get started, or you can check out my post on how to set up a WordPress site with Bluehost, where I’ve included screenshots and have given some details you might need to know.
So these are the tips you need to get started with making money on Upwork.
I truly wish you the best of luck. I’ll never forget how I felt the moment I realized I could get paid online for doing what I was doing for free anyways – writing. And this is the platform that connected me with those first clients back in the days.